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Celebrating Holi in Udaipur (With a Kid)

Holi is a colorful Hindu festival that marks the start of spring. We celebrated Holi in Udaipur with a toddler and had the most incredible time. In this post, we’ll provide a detailed look at what Holi in Udaipur was like. We’ll outline the specifics of the celebrations in Udaipur and recap our personal experience. Since we were there with our 2-year-old, we’ll also explain what Holi was like with a kid, including what went well and what didn’t.

Also! If you’re interested in Udaipur beyond Holi, we have a separate post that is a broader guide to Udaipur and things to do there.

Keep reading to learn more about celebrating Holi in Udaipur!

In this Post

What is Holi?

Holi is a joyful Hindu festival that marks the start of Spring and end of winter, and also the victory of Vishnu (good) over Hiranyakashipu (evil). It’s celebrated all over India and Nepal, but it’s most popular in India’s northern states.

The celebration begins the night before on a day called Holika Dahan or Purvanchal (varies by region). On the evening before Holi, large bonfires are lit in the streets. The fire represents the burning of an evil demon, and is celebrated with singing, dancing and other rituals. (We did not participate in this portion.)

On the morning of Holi, people come together to celebrate the victory of Vishnu and welcome spring, a new season of life. People celebrate by throwing brightly colored powders, spraying water, and dancing to drums and music in the streets.

Like all holidays, the details of the Holi celebration have evolved over the years. Today, the celebration is known for its bright colors and festive, party atmosphere. Holi has even gained a lot of popularity outside of Indian in recent years. Today, you can find Holi celebrations all over the world, but nothing beats a Holi party in India.

When is Holi?

The exact date of Holi changes each year. It’s aligned to the Hindu Calendar, which is lunar based. Holi is always in the spring and usually falls in the month of March. Here’s a look at the dates for Holi over the next few years.

  • Holi 2024: March 25, 2024
  • Holi 2025: March 14, 2025
  • Holi 2026: March 4, 2026
  • Holi 2027: March 22, 2027
  • Holi 2028: March 11, 2028

NOTE: These are scheduled Holi dates. The bonfire is held the night before each of these dates.

These dates might not always be exact and may vary by region. During our visit in 2023, everything online said that Holi was to be celebrated on March 8. When we got there, we learned the celebration was actually being held a day early on March 7.

After scouring Twitter and Instagram, it seemed like this date change was unique to Udaipur and everyone was pretty confused about why the celebration dates were different. I don’t know if this is common, but it’s a good enough reason to make sure you arrive at least a day early just in case.

A good way to confirm the exact date is to check with either your hotel. Many of the popular, touristy hotels host Holi parties on property. Their Holi dates should align with the Holi celebrations in the city.

Where to Celebrate Holi in Udaipur

The main Holi celebration in Udaipur is held in the square in front of Jagdish Temple. The festivities started around 9 AM with dancing and roaming drummers, and then the DJ took over at 10 AM. They blasted popular Indian hits all morning, and the crowds frequently bursted out in song and coordinated dance moves. Colors filled the air and everyone’s faces.

Another large party was held in front of Gangour Ghat. This party had a similar energy with a DJ, dancing and colors. It seemed to be more popular with tourists than Jagdish Temple. We thought this party seemed smaller, but their Instagram claims it’s the largest in Udaipur.

There are other celebrations around Udaipur too, some organized and some not. You could also find people celebrating in different ways all over town. People would stop to spread colors on your face and kids would shoot water guns or threw water balloons from second-floor windows.

Another option for Holi in Udaipur is hotel parties. Depending on the hotel, this might be angled as a cultural demonstration where tourists can learn about and experience the holiday. In other cases, it might be a party destination for young locals with popular DJs and abundant food and drink packages.

The hotel experiences will vary by year and location. Be sure to check with your hotel or research hotel parties in the weeks/months leading up to the event each year. We cover the The Oberoi Udaivilas party in our recap below.

Where to get Colors for Holi in Udaipur

You can buy powdered colors from street vendors all over town. There are stands at the main Holi celebrations at Jagdish Temple and Gangour Ghat, as well as dotted around the streets leading toward the parties. Colors are sold in small bags for 20 Rupees each. I’d recommend getting 2 to 3 bags of color for each person.

The color booths were set up on the morning of Holi, but you can also find colors for sale on the streets in the day(s) leading up to Holi. There’s no real reason to buy colors in advance, though. In our experience, there was plenty of colors available the morning of Holi.

What to Wear to Holi

If you’re celebrating Holi (or “playing Holi” as the locals say), you’re going to get colorful and that’s the fun. The most important thing is to wear something that can get dirty and possibly ruined. The powdered colors on their own actually wash out moderately well, but once they get wet (by being sprayed with water or even just sweat) it’s game over.

Everything I read before going to Holi said to wear all white. From what we saw, it was mostly tourists who got that memo. All of the locals wore solid colors but not necessarily white, or just regular clothes. I say that so you don’t feel like you have to wear all white or that everyone else will be doing it.

If you want to get the all white kurta, though, you absolutely should. It can make a fun keepsake. In fact, we kept our clothes in all their colored glory. I like the idea of cutting out a square of fabric for my photo book or something.

But also, the splattered colors look cute and pretty at the start, but they quickly blend together.

The other important thing is to be comfortable. It’s likely going to be hot, so wear something breezy. Any shoes will probably be fine. I wore flip flips thinking they’d wash off easily, and they did. However, my husband and toddler wore sneakers and both pairs cleaned up just fine. Hats are also a good idea to protect you from the sun and colors staining your scalp.

Recap: Our Holi in Udaipur Experience

In this next section, we’ll walk through our personal experience as a family of 3 from the US celebrating Holi in Udaipur in Spring 2023. Spoiler alert: it was amazing.

Getting to the Holi Celebration in Udaipur

Our day started with “clean” photos at our hotel at 9 AM. We didn’t go full white, but the three of us had white t-shirts. We paired it with our darkest bottoms, which we planned to wash and continue to wear on our trip. My husband and toddler wore hats, but I just left my hair exposed.

Our hotel was across Lake Pichola from central Udaipur where the parties were, so we got to the area by boat. Our hotel shuttle boat usually drops off at their jetty near Doodh Talai. Usually it’s easy to take a tuk tuk around Udaipur, but the roads were closed for Holi. We got lucky and our driver was willing to drop us off at a closed Lal Ghat. We had to jump a fence, but it was worth it to arrive just a few blocks from the temple.

It was our first time out of the hotel in Udaipur, and we didn’t quite have our bearings. However, it was easy to follow the crowds and the music to the party at Jagdish Temple.

Holi: 1, Toddler: 0

On our walk from Lal Ghat to Jagdish Temple, we started to be approached by people who wanted to wish us Happy Holi. That meant taking a pinch of color and spreading it on each cheek. Every person asked for permission first before spreading colors on our face.

After our first color exchange, our toddler was done. They immediately started crying and saying “all done!” The breakdown was somewhat expected, but it was more immediate and intense than we were prepared for.

I think they were most upset that someone got mommy dirty. We usually say that colors are for paper and don’t often encourage getting our clothes dirty on purpose. I think they were confused and worried. Confident that they’d rally, we kept on heading toward the temple.

Even with a crying baby, people continued to stop and ask if we wanted colors. It seemed most people thought the colors would help the situation — a fair but incorrect assumption. We continued to accept colors, with hopes of showing our little one that we wanted them and it wasn’t bad or scary.

Holi Party at Jagdish Temple

We arrived at Jagdish Temple shortly before 10 AM. There were drummers playing and people dancing in the square, with puffs of color popping up from the crowds every few seconds. The colors were mostly tossed into the air or smeared on faces. There was not a lot of water spray or splashes in this area.

We purchased two baggies of colors from a stand in the square. There were tons of colors available, and only cost a quarter a pop.

The crowd seemed mostly Indian — either Udaipur locals or domestic tourists — with a splattering of easily identifiable western tourists in bright white kurtas. Vehicles couldn’t enter the square but a few cows didn’t get the memo. Authorities were doing their best to keep them out of the crowds and colors.

At 10 AM, the energy was already high. People were dancing and singing in the middle of the square, with a few people on the steps of the temple. Crowds were not that dense and there was plenty of space to move through and around them.

By 10:30 AM, the party was in full swing. The DJ had started and the dancing took up most of the square — nonstop colors and confetti filled the air. It was crowded, but not dangerously so. You could easily walk through the crowds if you wanted/needed to and there was plenty of space on the edges to people watch.

Holi Party at Gangour Ghat

We took a short break from the Jagdish Temple celebration to see what else was going on. We quickly stumbled across the Holi party at Gangour Ghat.

The Holi party at Gangour Ghat was similar to the one at Jagdish Temple. There was a DJ playing, with a crowd of people dancing and throwing colors. We thought it seemed smaller than Jagdish, but their Instagram claims it’s the biggest party in Udaipur.

There also seemed to be more tourists which I only noticed because they were the only ones throwing colors at people. The locals would throw colors up in the air or spread it directly on your face.

There were colors for sale near Gangour Ghat, too. There was a street stand set up just up the street from the celebration, and the colors and prices were the same as at Jagdish Temple.

The party at Gangour Ghat was fine, but mostly just if you were dancing. The views and people watching were better at Jagdish Temple, so we headed back there after about 10 minutes.

Blonde Baby Warms up to Holi

Our 2-year-old was pretty uneasy for the first 30 minutes we were there. It was a combination of the loud music, strangers getting mommy and daddy dirty, and large crowds that they just were not used to.

They are also blonde and white, so they were very popular with the locals. So many people wanted to take pictures with them. This was true all over India, but was a bit more intense at Holi. Most people passing by would ask for photos or ask if they could play Holi with us. For a while that was just greeted with a firm no and tears, but suddenly something changed.

A group that included women and children stopped to talk to Zoe and asked for a photo. I think Zoe was cried out because they let me pick them up for the photo. Then one of the moms asked to hold Zoe, which is totally normal and common in India. I think they were too caught off guard in chaos to say no and obliged.

Then the older daughter wanted to hold them, then the smiley dad, then pretty much everyone passing by. And at some point during the next 10 minutes of being passed around to strangers and posing in each of their pictures (I was beside them the whole time), they decided that this was fun.

We sat down after that and for the first time they started playing with the colors. Mostly they just wanted to take the color out of the bag and throw it on the ground, but they were happy! Suddenly they were having fun!

We started to see more children who wanted to play Holi with us. We engaged with maybe five different Indian kids, and all of them seemed just as confused about the experience as Zoe. It was so special to watch these kids try to figure out what was going on with someone their age.

Enjoying Holi in Udaipur

An hour after we arrived, everyone in our family was finally enjoying Holi! We spent most of our time at the Jagdish Temple party, but stayed to the back near a side street. That gave us more space and a stoop to sit on, plus we got to participate in 1:1 color exchanges as we welcomed newcomers to the party.

Kenny and I took turns taking laps through and around the dancing. We didn’t do any dancing ourselves, but it was incredible to witness. I also ventured to the top of the steps of the temple to watch the crowds below. If we had more time, it would have been fun to sit on steps as a family to enjoy the party from above.

We spent about 1.5 hours celebrating Holi in Udaipur. If it was just Kenny and I, we probably would have stayed another hour or so, but we were also fine leaving. We felt like we got to experience the festival, and we were just thrilled that our little one finally came around to it.

Leaving Holi in Udaipur

The party was still going strong when we left around 11 AM. (I can’t say from experience how late Holi party lasts at Jagdish Temple.) At that time, the square was alive with colors and dancing, and more people continued to arrive at the square as we were on our way out.

It was so hard to leave because our toddler was finally having so much fun! However, we knew it was only a matter of time before lunch time and nap time caught up to us, so we made our way out of town. Tuk Tuks were available outside of the pedestrian area, but we decided to walk.

After leaving Jagdish Temple, we went east winding through some more residential areas. Close to the parties, most people played Holi with just colors, but in this direction there was a lot more water. Kids shot water blasters and dropped water balloons from upper windows.

This walk was probably my least favorite part of the day. It felt less like celebrating and more like being attacked. Not in a dangerous way by any means, but it wasn’t a mutual exchange like the colors were. Plus, the water really sets the color into your skin and clothes. Maybe I’d have been more into it if I hit the water at the start of the party instead of the end.

Once we got to the main street, we had no problems walking to our boat jetty. We boarded our shuttle boat and headed back to our hotel.

Holi Party at The Oberoi Udaivilas

We felt a little better leaving the Holi parties in central Udaipur knowing that we had another party waiting for us at our hotel. The Holi party at the hotel was scheduled from 10 AM to 1 PM, and we arrived just before noon.

We were staying at The Oberoi Udaivilas, and it wasn’t at all surprising that they had a beautiful Holi setup. There were brightly colored tents, hanging floral arrangements and cozy seating set against the backdrop of Lake Pichola. The party had a DJ, food buffet and full bar, plus homemade fruit popsicles. There were plates piled high with color powders and water blasters for everyone to play Holi.

We caught the tail end of the party, but there were plenty of guests there. Some people were dancing, but most were sitting in the shade. It seemed like everyone was having fun, but one group of females traveling together seemed to be truly having the time of their lives.

Our little one had fully embraced the colors by the this point and was thrilled to find ever more at this party. Plus, the hotel manager brought his daughter (the only other kid there), and they quickly became best friends. In fact, we couldn’t leave until they hugged each other by new fewer than three times.

The hotel party was beautiful and fun, and we were glad we went. However, it was not the same vibe as the Holi parties in town. I’m so glad we got the full experience in town first and then did the hotel party second with extra time.

Is Udaipur a Good Place to Celebrate Holi?

Holi celebrations vary greatly by region and by city. Udaipur offers a festive, fun and colorful experience that is not too intense. Holi in Udaipur is perfect for tourists who want to engage with locals or just witness an authentic Holi festival, and also enjoy an amazing Indian city while they’re there.

Udaipur is a good medium sized city. The main Holi parties were big enough and organized enough to be exciting and fun, but not so crowded that it ever felt dangerous or out of hand. It was nice that we didn’t have to get there early or worry about navigating huge crowds, especially with a little one.

I loved that we could experience the Holi parties along side the locals. We didn’t know what to expect, but everyone so kindly showed us how to “play Holi” and what the festival is about. In our experience, everyone was incredibly considerate and always asked before spreading color on us. It was nice to be able to participate in the authentic celebration without feeling either intrusive or out of place.

It was also quite organized. There were signs around town advertising the events, and I also noticed in pictures signs for “dos and don’ts.” Local officials made sure that the streets stayed clear of vehicles and helped ensure people could celebrate safely.

Not only is Udaipur great for Holi, but it’s also just a really great place to visit. On the day(s) on either side of Holi, you can enjoy the stunning Udaipur City Palace, take a boat ride on Lake Pichola, or just walk the bustling market streets of Bada Bazar. The city is known for its sunsets and rooftop views, and it’s overall just a very beautiful and relaxing place to be.

We had the very best time celebrating Holi in Udaipur. It was the only Holi celebration we’ve ever attended in India (or anywhere for that matter), but we’d recommend it to anyone. The Holi celebrations were happy and fun, but also felt safe and contained.

Tips for Celebrating Holi in Udaipur

  • Don’t throw colors at people. Instead, take a pinch of color and smear a line of color on each cheek and say “Happy Holi!” In our experience (either because we were white tourists or because we had a kid) most people asked permission first.
  • Walk to the Holi parties. Many of the streets around Jagdish Temple and central Udaipur are closed to vehicle traffic for Holi, and many of the boat docks (ghats) are also closed. Tuk tuks will only pick-up / drop-off on the main streets on the edge of town.
  • Get to Udaipur a day or two before Holi. The day before Holi is celebrated with bonfires, which may close streets and make certain travel tricky. Plus, you’ll have wiggle room in case the celebration is a day different than you expect.
  • The party starts early. While the bonfires the night before Holi are held in the evening, the colorful part of Holi is celebrated during the day! Parties usually start around 9:30 or 10 AM and are over by the early afternoon, so don’t sleep in!
  • Check social media for Holi parties and details. We couldn’t find a ton of information about Holi celebrations in Udaipur on Google in advance, but social apps had great real-time insights. Look up hashtags like #UdaipurDiaries and #holi or accounts like @team_gangaurghat on Instagram.
  • Protect your phone and electronics. Keep your phone in a sealed ziplock bag or protective pouch. For photos, we took our phone out and tried our best to keep it away from the colors or used a GoPro.
  • Wear hat and/or sunglasses. Both of these things will protect your eyes from color. A hat will also protect your hair and scalp from the color.
  • Be respectful and considerate. Always ask before touching or putting color on anyone. Do not put colors on animals.
  • Watch for cows. Cows generally wander the streets in Udaipur. While they try to keep them clear from the parties, sometimes they got close to the people. Just be aware of your surroundings because it would sure hurt to get stepped on.

Other things to know about Holi in Udaipur

  • City Palace is closed to the public on Holi and the day before for Holika Dahan. This is where the royals celebrate and unfortunately …
  • you’re not invited to the royal Holi celebrations. Everything I read about Holi in Udaipur revolved around the royal celebrations at City Palace. These celebrations look amazing, but they are not open to the public.
  • Bhang is a cannabis-infused drink that is said to be popular during Holi. We never saw it, but it’s something to be aware of.
  • People have reported experiences of harassment and inappropriate touching during Holi. We did not experience this, but we have to acknowledge that others have had very real problems with it. A solo female traveler could easily have a different (and quite frankly, worse) experience than I had as a female with a male partner and young child. Here is a great guide to Holi for female travelers.
  • The night before Holi is Holika Dahan, which is celebrated in the evening with bonfires in the streets. Other than driving past the pires, we don’t know much about how they celebrate in Udaipur. It’s not part of the holiday that you need to prioritize as a tourist, though.
  • For the most part, the color comes off pretty easily as long as it doesn’t get wet. We washed our dark colored pants/skirt in regular laundry the day after holi, and it came out as clean as it was before Holi. It took some scrubbing, but we were able to wash off most of the colors from our skin in just one shower. The exception was when the color powder got wet and then dried. That seemed to really set the color into our skin and clothing.

Is Holi in Udaipur Good for kids?

Finding the perfect city in India to celebrate Holi with kids was really hard. Holi is celebrated all over Northern India, but the parties can be really intense in some cities. I was on the hunt for a city that had a fun celebration, but was also safe and comfortable for our 2-year-old.

Ultimately, I settled on Udaipur for two reasons. First, it was one of the only cities where I could find a recap from someone who actually celebrated Holi with kids. Second, I could not find a bad thing about Udaipur on the internet, and I was happy to come up with an excuse to add it to our itinerary.

Udaipur turned out to be a great city to celebrate Holi with a kid. The parties around town were easy to find, very organized, and felt safe. The crowds were not too intense and the parties never felt like they got out of hand. It felt like a joyful celebration and not just a drunk teenage party. (In fact, I don’t recall seeing any alcohol anywhere.)

We also had a really positive experience and found that everyone was extremely respectful of our child. People always asked us first before touching or sharing color with us or our child. No one was throwing colors in their face or touching them against their wishes.

It was also comforting to see other local children out at the Holi parties. I’s always a good sign that the locals think its a fun and safe event for children, too. All of the children we saw were Indian, but were equally confused about the experience. It was really special to watch the kids figure it out together.

Overall, I felt comfortable with my 2-year-old at Holi in Udaipur. They very nervous at first, but ultimately ended up loving it and crying when we had to leave.

Sensory Warning for kids at Holi

Even though Holi in Udaipur is a good option for families with kids, it is still sensory overload. Here are a few things to be prepared for, and how you can mitigate them in Udaipur.

  • Noise. The DJ parties are all really loud, which includes the parties in town and hotel parties. Standing to the back or behind the speakers can sometimes be a bit quieter.
  • Crowds. The city parties are crowded. Not necessarily dangerously so, but there are definitely lots of people. At Jadgish Temple, it’s easy to stay on the sidelines without being actually in the crowds. The steps of the temple are also a good option.
  • Strangers and touching. The experience centers around strangers spreading color on your face, and that can be hard for kids. In our experience, everyone was extremely respectful and asked before touching or putting color on our child. Your experience might vary, though.
  • Water and color. There is water and color everywhere, and it can sometimes be unexpected or unavoidable. In our experience, the residential streets outside of the main parties were the worst for water.

Tips for celebrating Holi in Udaipur with Kids

Our Holi experience with a kid wasn’t perfect, but there are a few things that worked well for us that we want to share.

Before you go:

  • Read books about India and Holi to get them excited! We really love Tiny Travelers India, which has a page about Holi.
  • Watch YouTube videos about Holi and Udaipur so they know what to expect.
  • Practice getting dirty! Our child was so confused and worried about why we were all getting dirty and why that was suddenly okay. Practice finger painting or maybe even tie-dye a shirt or something to explain why sometimes this is allowed.

The morning of Holi:

  • Prepare for photo requests. Tell your children (especially white children) that people might want to take their picture. Help them understand why people might want a photo with them and encourage them to think about if that’s something they’d like to do. (Or as parents, you may want to make that decision for them.)
  • Talk to your children about consent. We never made our child take a photo or be touched if they didn’t want to. For the most part people respected that, even though in India it’s more culturally acceptable.

During Holi:

  • Put a hat on them. The hat will help shield their eyes from the color and sun, but it will also help them visually block out the crowds.
  • Get there early and leave early. We were there from about 9:30 AM to 11 AM and it was perfect. You really don’t need that much time, and the start of the event is more chill.
  • Take your time. Slowly introduce colors, then crowds, then photos with strangers, etc. It takes a while for kids to adjust, but hopefully they’ll come around.

Quick Guide to Holi in Udaipur

  • How is Holi celebrated in Udaipur? Parties are held around town with DJs and dancing. People throw powdered colors in the air and spread them on one another’s face wishing them a “Happy Holi.”
  • Where is Holi celebrated in Udaipur: The biggest Holi Parties in Udaipur are at Jagdish Temple and Gangour Ghat.
  • What time does the Holi party start in Udaipur: Usually around 9:30 or 10 AM
  • What to wear to Holi in Udaipur: Wear cool clothing that can get dirty. Tourists often wear all white, while locals wear their regular clothes. We recommend a solid light-colored shirt, dark pants or skirt, tennis shoes or flip flops, and a hat.
  • What to bring to Holi in Udaipur: A protective phone case or Zipoc bag, bottled water, GoPro if you have one, sunglasses, and cash in small bills to buy colors.